Page last updated at 07:28 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 08:28 UK

Adams meets Hamas PM in Gaza

Gerry Adams is on a visit to the Middle East
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is on a visit to the Middle East

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams says he believes there can be progress in the Middle East after talking to Gaza's Hamas prime minister.

Mr Adams had an hour long meeting with Ismail Haniya on Wednesday night.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, is listed as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US and EU.

Mr Adams said he was encouraged by the dialogue. "Mr Haniya told me that Hamas wants a peace agreement," he said.

The meeting came at the end of a day in which Mr Adams met with civic, political and business leaders in Gaza.

He also toured parts of northern Gaza devastated by the Israeli operation in the Palestinian territory in January.

He said: "I welcome the opportunity to engage with so many people.

"I was pleased to speak directly with Mr Haniya. I outlined to him Sinn Féin's view that there should be a complete cessation of all hostilities and armed actions by all sides.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams urges Israelis and Palestinians to hold direct talks

"The fact is that the people of Palestine and the people of Israel are destined to live side by side. I believe that most people want a peaceful accommodation.

"Following my meeting with Mr Haniya I believe that progress is possible.

"As I have said consistently there needs to be a dialogue between the people of Palestine and their leadership and the people of Israel and their leadership.

"That is what worked in Ireland."

On Tuesday, Mr Adams visited Sderot and Kfar Aza - a town and Kibbutz - in southern Israel that have been the targets for rocket attacks from Gaza.

However, before he set off for the Middle East Israeli officials said they would not meet him because he would not rule out meeting Palestinian militants.

They had threatened not to allow him to enter Gaza.

He said he regretted the Israeli government's refusal to meet him.

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